Having a website with a secure socket layer, or SSL, is becoming the norm as people become more concerned with internet safety, and Google is helping to drive the change. Google wants to direct searchers to websites that have a secure connection to keep user information safe. This can range from email addresses for logins or newsletters, passwords, and contact information to credit card numbers and banking information. To encourage the change Google is changing the algorithm to give a boost to secure websites.
First thing, what is an SSL? An SSL creates a secure connection on a website between the user’s computer and the website. These were originally created to secure ecommerce websites that handled credit card information to make sure the information was kept safe. A website with an SSL can be identified by HTTPS at the beginning of the URL and/or a green bar containing the company name.
Most websites that are not ecommerce sites or do not deal with other sensitive information are HTTP sites, which focus more on how information is viewed and presented. Creating a website with SSL requires extra steps and hasn’t been considered necessary for websites that do not handle sensitive information.
In August of 2014 Google announced that having an HTTPS website would be a ranking factor for the search engine. Google’s announcement states, “it’s only a very lightweight signal – affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content.” While 1% may not seem like very much right now, Google has also said they may decide to strengthen the weight of having an HTTPS website over time to encourage online security. This means that switching from HTTP to HTTPS can be beneficial to search engine optimization whether your website deals with ecommerce or not.
Transitioning from a HTTP to an HTTPS website may seem like a daunting task, but Google has created a list to help you get through the process. They have also included some tips to help avoid common problems.
-Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
-Use 2048-bit key certificates
-Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
-Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
-Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
-Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
-Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.
Do you want to learn more about adding an SSL to your website? Contact the Stellar Blue team for more information!